Do you have family ties to SAE?
I have no direct family ties to SAE. However, I grew up in Jackson, Tennessee, home of Union University and one of our ante-bellum chapters, Tennessee Eta. In Jackson High School, we had fraternities. There was a tradition in the fraternity I joined (Theta Kappa Omega) that wherever our members attended college, we would join SAE. I suppose this tradition was the result of the significant presence SAE had in Jackson. It could have also been the result of a large number of alumni who attended Union University and joined the Fraternity. When I arrived at Tennessee-Martin in 1969, there was no SAE chapter on campus. Three of my fellow high-school fraternity brothers (Larry McGee, Mike Carmichael and Ed Moore) joined a group of men petitioning the headquarters to establish a colony.
Biggest Career Highlights
Having grown up in the family construction business, I decided I wanted to do something else. That something else in the early ’70s was to change the world. I went to work for a U.S. congressman in Washington D.C. It was an exciting, rewarding and great experience overall. Today, I am the Vice President of Business Development for a construction company, so you can see how far I got with that “change the world” thing.
Fondest Memories of SAE
What sticks out in my mind the most is the comradeship and brotherhood we felt when we formed the Phi Alpha Fraternity colony. All of us had been rushed by the other fraternities on campus, but we wanted to be SAEs. There had not been a successful attempt to establish a new fraternity on campus in many years, and we were told constantly we would not succeed. Now, more than 40 years later, the chapter is thriving, and we are on the threshold of starting construction on a new house. I believe this is the most exciting period in our chapter’s history since our founding.
My main focus through the years has been to support the growth and development of Tennessee Tau. A number of years ago, I was asked by the Provence Archon, Ronnie Neill, to run for president of the house corporation, which I did successfully. I continue to serve on the board of directors. I also serve as a member of the new house design-and-construction team. This most recent assignment is the most exciting by far. We look forward to having a new fraternity house soon that will be the envy of everyone on campus.
Why is it important for others to support fraternity housing?
The most important reason is that we alumni need to ensure we provide a safe environment for our undergraduate brothers. Since we are a relatively young and small chapter — with about 650 alumni — it’s important for each alumnus to become involved. As we enter the final stage of construction of our new house, we will require the talents and resources of every member of our chapter. Lastly, and I know this sounds corny, but you do receive more than you give when you become involved with such a group of fine young men as we have in the Fraternity.
What has been your biggest challenge as a housing volunteer?
Our biggest challenge is locating alumni so we can let them know the great things our active brothers are achieving and why the chapter needs their support. When alumni have reconnected with the group, they have stayed involved. Another challenge we have is physical, as we try to keep an older house updated in good repair in order to provide safe housing for our collegiate brothers.